A rainy wedding at Dodford Manor for Fred & Sasha

July 25, 2014

Fred and Sasha’s wedding was just the kind of wedding I’d like to attend as a guest. You couldn’t help but have a great time when you saw how much fun they were having. They radiated love & happiness all day, and revelled in every moment. If you’d been a complete stranger at their wedding you would have left feeling like an old friend.

About Fred & Sasha and their wedding

Fred and Sasha’s wedding was a bit like a family wedding for me. I’ve known Sasha for a few years (she modelled for a couple of my bridal fashion shoots) and since then she’s recommended her friends Rich & Hen and Mike & Helena to me for their wedding photography. Between them they have lots of mutual friends too and it was wonderful to work amongst so many familiar and friendly faces. Big waves to Beth as well!

Sasha works as an Event Planner so needless to say the day was perfectly planned. It was also effortlessly relaxed. There was a certain amount of tradition with a church ceremony and things like speeches and a first dance but their choice of a barn venue and massive stamp of personality on proceedings made the day feel organic, free and very them.

Fred & Sasha have playful personalities and a wicked, occasionally mischievous, sense of fun. They have a huge zest for life; they’re like bouncy tiggers! When you’re with Fred & Sasha there is nothing else; they’ve got a knack of drawing you right in so that you get completely immersed in their joy. That’s just what it was like each time I met them and just what it was like to share their wedding.

Fred and Sasha’s wedding style

Fred & Sasha decided to do whatever felt right and fitting for them. If it was their normal style or something they’d normally do, it was in. A ‘Fred & Sasha’ theme I suppose.

Coral was their main colour for flowers with ivory too and the most fabulous pink peonies. The grey/silver foliage gave it all a soft and romantic look. The warmth of the coral worked brilliantly with the warm tones in the brickwork at Dodford Manor. Picking something that suits your venue decor will always look good.

Their stationery was simple but special. Clean white paper stock, hand drawn typography and twine binding fitted with the rustic, textured feel of the barn and all its’ brick and wood. Fred and Sasha thoughtfully put a memory of something they smile about, unique to each guest, on the back of their placecards. These went down a treat; it was a great ice breaker as guests traded the full story about their anecdote.

Their Krispy Kreme tower was a fun alternative to a traditional wedding cake. I was hyperactive after just smelling the sticky sweetness!

The wedding video

The best thing about filming Fred & Sasha’s wedding was that they wore their hearts on their sleeves and were brimming with fun all day long. Their mini movie is everything that is good about wedding videography; the sound and movement capture more of the atmosphere than photos ever could; especially the ceremony and speeches. Watch this and try not to feel anything!

The wedding photography

Sasha got ready at home with her bridesmaids. I loved the exposed brickwork of their house; you can see all the more now that everything they chose and planned was their normal style and very personal. That consistency worked great and makes their entire set of wedding photos feel cohesive.

Fred and Sasha weren’t worried about what the weather would be like at all. Of course they thought it would be nice if the sun shone but their ‘it is what it is’ attitude is the best one to have. And it was just as well they felt that way! Flood warnings were in force and heavy rain was forecast for the entire day from mid morning. The downpours started as I drove to the church and continued as the guests arrived.

Working outside in the rain is as simple as wedging an umbrella under my arm but inside it was more challenging. The heavy rain and dark clouds made the church like a cave. The low light was more akin to a winter wedding than a summer one. In fact there was virtually no natural light and the overhead spotlights in the church cast ugly shadows. A church isn’t the place to use a flash to compensate for that; it’s too distracting. So I have to push camera settings to the extreme and trust in professional equipment. These situations aren’t for the faint-hearted!

By the time Sasha arrived the rain was vicious. The wedding car drove up the tiny path to the church (so narrow it had to reverse all the way out afterwards!) to drop Sasha right at the door so she could get out under the cover of the church porch. With her Grandad, four bridesmaids, the Vicar and the church warden in the porch there was very little room for a wedding photographer! The photo of Sasha getting out of the car was a one shot moment. I’m glad Sasha did nothing but beam the biggest smile all day!

The ceremony is the thing that Fred & Sasha were looking forward to the most and I have to say that I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much fun in a church. Typically the Vicar feels very separate to the couple and their guests. Today everyone was together.

The rain thundered on the roof of the church throughout the service but it was completely drowned out by the singing. Fred and Sasha chose some gutsy hymns that everyone would know and could really get into. And get into it they did; those hymns were sung with gusto and immense joy. More like singing, clapping, waving and dancing along at a concert. The sound completely filled the church. ‘Shine Jesus Shine’ was an inspired choice which I still keep singing to myself!

Fred and Sasha’s elation was plain to see as they walked out of church…

The rain was still torrential as everyone came out of church. It was tricky getting photos at this point simply because of the number of people, a lack of space and the rain slowing down people leaving. I was wedged, under an umbrella, in a tiny space between the church wall and the wedding car and photographing with a big zoom lens to get a view through all the people. Every time I went to press the shutter it seemed that someone moved in and blocked my view but the occassional photo bomb compensated for that! I love the extra buzz of capturing smiles in that sort of situation.

Right at the point where I was worried about the rain (the drinks reception) it stopped. The sun even made a (very) brief appearance and we all cheered! So the weather was on side, but time wasn’t. The drinks reception started later than planned because of the rain slowing up leaving the church. There was 45 minutes to photograph the dinner set up, group photos, couple portraits and candid coverage of the drinks reception before everyone was called in for dinner. There’s usually twice that time and even that can be tight. This was both a marathon and a sprint!

Fred and Sasha had wisely kept their list of group photos short but it still took time to find people; it always does. So in between each group I spun around and captured candid photos of guests close by, while the Ushers found the people we needed. Fred & Sasha relaxed into their portraits quickly thanks to our pre-wedding shoot, so we did the first set-up in a few minutes but time was very short by now. Romantic pictures aren’t something that can be rushed so we decided to do a few more after dinner. I was able to photograph the dinner table details without anyone else around so that sped things up. And I saved the walk through long wet grass to get a photo of the venue until after dinner!

Fred and Sasha came bounding in for dinner; jubilant, whooping, singing and dancing. Capturing moments and sequences of photos like this is such a thrill. This particular moment was tough to get though – I was working in a very tight space (that seemed to be the theme for my day!) with guests and chairs butted right up next to me, and having to shoot crouched down low so that I didn’t block the view and enjoyment of guests behind me. Thank you Amy for raising your glass at just the right moment!

The speeches were an opportunity to capture lots of great expressions and the light in the barn was a dream; very flattering.

‘Forehead to mouth’, with after eight mints, is a tradition for Sasha’s family’s dinners. For those who have never played it before, you put the chocolate on your forehead and have to get it into your mouth without using your hands. Cue lots of funny faces and tongues trying to hook the chocolate in! It was fun to see so many guests joining in, completely carefree about the melted chocolate smudges on their faces!

Often I’ll work from a distance to capture people relaxed and unaware of the camera. But this was a time when stepping forward and working close to the action was important. Working from far away with a zoom lens could have aroused suspicion and made people reluctant about being photographed doing this. Getting close in and laughing along with the guests helped break down barriers and meant I could photograph more freely.

I’m sure you can imagine how sweet this smelt? I had a sugar rush just being next to it to take photos! I loved that the shape of the DJs’ lights imitated the shape of a doughnut! Needless to say Fred & Sasha made the humble ‘cake-cutting’ into a sassy, personality packed moment ;)

Fred and Sasha had played their first dance down when they told me they were planning a choreographed number but wowed me, and all their guests, on the day. They were totally engrossed in each other, egging each other on and gave their guests plenty of moves to cheer at.

Top tips for couples planning a similar wedding

  1. The weather. Don’t worry about it.
  2. Do what feels right for you rather than what you think is expected or always seen at weddings. Making your wedding personal is the key to a memorable day.
  3. Keep your group list short. I make no apology for mentioning this on every blog post!
  4. Be flexible on the day. Working with challenges rather than sticking rigidly to Plan A will make a more relaxed day and therefore more relaxed photos.
  5. Let your photographer know if you’re doing a choreographed first dance. Routines are usually designed to look best from certain angles to suit your venue and where your guests will be watching from, so it really helps to know that in order to get the best spots on the day.

Have you booked Dodford Manor as your wedding venue?

If you have … good choice! Dodford is one of my fave places to work. I love all that countryside! But it’s not just because it’s pretty. It’s great for all sorts of reasons.

Click here to find out why I think Dodford Manor is brilliant for wedding photographs. There are links to a few other weddings I’ve photographed at Dodford on that page too, including some more ceremonies at Dodford church.

And if you think I might be the wedding photographer for you, I’d love to hear from you. Send me a message with a few details about your wedding and I’ll send you my wedding photography brochure.

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